1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Frank Sydney Beckett

Private 2577 Frank Sydney Beckett, 2/8th Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire) Regiment, 2nd Notts. & Derby Brigade, 2nd North Midland Division. Died of pneumonia, 5 March 1915, aged 21.

Frank is buried in Plot I. 2. 75., St. George Churchyard. He is commemorated on Abergele Town War Memorial as S. Beckett (but not the Abergele War Memorial), St. George War Memorial (which spells his name incorrectly) and Bodelwyddan War Memorial.

Frank Sydney, more commonly known by his middle name, was the son of Sarah Ann and George Horner Beckett. George was head gardener at Kinmel Park and originated from Nottinghamshire. In 1912, at the age of 18 in 1912, Sydney moved from St. George to Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. He took up lodgings at 105, Union Street, Mansfield, and was employed as a railway clerk.

The 8th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, based in Worksop, were a territorial battalion that, like all territorial battalions on the outbreak of war, began dividing into a 1/8th (first line) Battalion and a 2/8th (second line) Battalion. This was completed in Newark on 11 September 1914. The first line contained men who had volunteered to serve overseas if required whereas the second line were men that would serve as home defence forces. Sydney volunteered for the 1/8th in Mansfield on 21 September 1914. The 1/8th, following mobilisation, had moved to Harpenden for training and this is where where Sydney caught up with his new comrades. In November 1914 it moved to Braintree in Essex. By February 1915 the battalion was ready for overseas service and on 24 February 1915  the battalion began shipping out to France.

On that very day Sydney was posted away from the 1/8th Battalion to the 2/8th Battalion due to illness, though he would never complete the transfer. He had caught a chill following a night attack training exercise near Braintree a few days earlier. The chill had turned to pneumonia and he was hospitalised. He died in the 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge at 2.15 p.m. on 5 March.

His body was returned home and the funeral took place at St. George on Monday 8 March 1915. He was accorded full military honours, with bearers supplied from the recently completed army training base known as Kinmel Camp. A 21 gun salute was fired in the air as the coffin was lowered.

The Beckett family grave in St. George. Frank Sydney is entitled to a war grave headstone from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission though this has never been supplied. If any descendants see this article and feel that the provision of a war grave headstone would be appropriate please make contact for details of how this can be achieved.

The Beckett family grave in St. George. Frank Sydney is entitled to a war grave headstone from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission though this has never been supplied. If any descendants see this article and feel that the provision of a war grave headstone would be appropriate please make contact for details of how this can be achieved.

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